Instant Pot Clam Chowder is so creamy and delicious! We took the traditional route to develop this recipe except for heavy cream. We swap it out for a cashew-coconut cream for a dairy-free option.
I remember in Culinary School, one of my favorite classes was American Reginal Cuisine. The United States is divided into regions like Tex Mex, Central Plains, New England, etc. We partnered up with 2-3 classmates and chose our desired region. Each week a team would teach the class history of their region, and we would cook five recipes.
My favorite week was the New England region. Who doesn't like Maryland crab cakes, New England Clam Chowder, and Boston Baked Beans?
I remember learning that clam chowder is traditionally made with onions, bacon, potatoes, clams, clam juice, and heavy cream. What about celery, you ask? Nope, there is no celery in classic clam chowder.
Needless to say, Clam Chowder is one of the GOAT (greatest of all time) soups, in my opinion. Not healthy by any means, with the base being milk or cream-based. I wanted to make this recipe quick, easy, and dairy-free. So after 3-4 attempts, I landed on this clam chowder recipe.
The instant pot is a game-changer, and you can bust out any soup in 10 minutes! If you are a busy working Mom or Dad. Putting dinner on the table quickly is a MUST. To make this recipe dairy-free, here enter's a coconut-cashew sauce. One of my favorite food bloggers 40 aprons , uses this cream sauce in her Chicken Pot Pie Soup, and it's so good.
If you want to cozy up to some great soup and stew recipes, check out my butternut squash soup, or my one-pot salmon stew.
What makes this instant pot clam chowder so good
- Instant Pot: This pressure cooker puts clam chowder on your dinner table in just 10 minutes. I love using the instant pot for soups, stew, and cooking veggies quickly.
- Dairy-Free: We replace milk and heavy cream with a coconut-cashew cream sauce. So easy to make with a high-speed blender. The sauce has the exact consistency of heavy cream.
- Great Fall/Winter Soup: This soup hugs you on cold fall/winter nights. Not only is clam chowder delicious, it feels you up.
Clam chowder ingredients
- clams - you can use fresh or canned. If using canned opt for wild caught.
- clam juice
- bone broth - chicken bone broth works the best
- coconut milk
- cashews - raw cashews only for this cream sauce
- potatoes - russet or red new potatoes
- bacon - I use a uncured sugar-free brand that I love
- salt + pepper
- arrowroot flour - make a slurry with water to thicken the soup
How Clam Chowder Is Made
Making Instant Pot Clam Chowder is so easy! Here's how to make it:
- Plugin your instant pot and press the saute function. It will take a minute or two to heat up.
- Cook chopped bacon and onions for 5 minutes or until bacon is crispy and onions are soft.
- Add in broth, clam juice, and potatoes.
- Press the pressure cook setting on the instant pot. Set for 10 minutes. It will take about 5 minutes for the countdown to begin.
- Meanwhile, make the coconut-cashew cream. Place coconut and cashews into a high-speed blender. Blend on high for 1 minute or until creamy and smooth.
- After the 10 minutes are up, manually release the pressure. Remove the lid and pour in cream sauce and clams. Give the soup a couple of stirs until the soup looks thick and creamy.
Hint: If the soup is not thick enough you can make a slurry with 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder and 1 tablespoon of water. Pour slurry into the soup and hit the saute function. When the soup reaches a bowl it should be nice and thick.
- Coconut Milk - Swap out for almond milk if you don't like the flavor of coconut milk.
- Russet Potatoes - Red-skinned potatoes make a great replacement and add a bit of color to clam chowder.
- Herbs - Parsley, thyme, or chives all work well in this recipe.
- Manhattan Clam Chowder: The difference being the color is red rather than white. So how do we get the Manhattan color? Instead of using cream or bone broth, we will use ¼ cup of tomato paste and 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes.
- Rhode Island Clam Chowder: This is a clear broth soup from pure clam juice. Remove bone broth and cream from this recipe. Increase the clam juice to 6 cups in volume.
- Keto Clam Chowder: Use 2 cups of heavy cream and 2 ounces of cream cheese at the end of cooking. No need for my coconut-cashew cream sauce. Using the saute function, heat the cream and cheese until melted and creamy.
How to store and reheat instant pot clam chower
Instant pot clam chowder is the best to enjoy fresh! However, it's possible to store, freeze and reheat.
How to Store: Cooked clam chowder will last refrigerated for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Tip - When storing soups, make sure to cool the soup down as quickly as possible. The soup must cool from 140 degrees F to 70 degrees F in two hours and from 70 degrees F to 40 degrees F in no more than four hours, this is called the two-stage cooling method.
To Freeze: Pour the cooled clam chowder into freezer bags and allow a few inches for expansion. Make sure to label and date the soup so you know how old it is. Clam chowder will last 3-4 months in the freezer. You can also place soup into freezer-safe containers with a good sealing lid.
To Reheat: Place clam chowder into a pot and heat gently on the stove. Make sure not to bring to a full boil to prevent scorching. Alternatively, place soup into a microwave-safe dish. Heat on 70% power for 5 minutes or until hot. Tip - I found out that reheating food at 70% or lower works like a charm. Full power will give you cold and cold spots, not warming your food evenly. This is a great technique if you are reheating a piece of fish where you don't want to overcook and dry it out.
- Don't cut potatoes too small. I know a lot of clam chowder recipes call from small diced potatoes. Not here, because I like texture! If potatoes are cut too small, they will disappear like they were never there. I like medium-large dice so you can see the potatoes with every bite.
- Use a high-speed blender. You want to make sure the coconut-cashew sauce is velvety smooth. I recommend using a Vitamix or Blendtec for the best results.
- Add the clams at the end of the cooking process. You want the clams to taste soft and tender. The residual heat of the soup will cook the clams.
- Stir in the coconut-cashew sauce thoroughly. You will notice after adding to the soup it will look separated. Don't give up. After a few minutes of stirring, it will look thick and creamy.
- Arrowroot Slurry. If you want a thicker consistency, make a surry. 2 tablespoons of arrowroot to 1 tablespoon of water. Mix into a paste and add it to clam chowder. Turn the saute function back on and bring it to a boil. Once the soup reaches a boil, it should get nice and thick.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make a slurry out of cornstarch or arrowroot starch. We went the arrowroot starch route since it's paleo-friendly. Combine 2 parts starch to 1 part water and mix into a paste. Add the slurry and bring it to a boil. The soup should thicken up right away.
Manhattan clam chowder is red. The base of the soup is tomato-based, unlike the cream-based New England clam chowder. Manhattan clam chowder also contains more vegetables like celery and carrots.
This goes back to the days when Catholic Christians were forbidden to eat meat on Fridays. Today during lent, Catholics avoid meat on Fridays and enjoy Fish instead.
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Instant Pot Clam Chowder
- 4 slices of bacon sugar-free, uncured, diced
- 1 onion diced
- 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes peeled, diced
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups clam juice
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup coconut milk full fat
- 2 cups clams chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- Fresh parsley chopped for garnish
- Turn instant pot onto saute mode. Cook bacon and onions for 5 minutes or until bacon starts to get crisp.
- Add the potatoes, clam juice, and chicken stock to the instant pot. Secure the lid with the valve in sealing position and set it to manual high pressure for 10 minutes. Once instant pot pressurizes, cook time will begin.
- While instant pot cooks, add coconut milk and cashews to a high-speed blender. Blend until very, very smooth.
- When the 10 minutes are up, quick release the pressure of the instant pot and pour the cream sauce into the soup.
- Add clams, salt, and pepper. Turn the instant pot back to the saute mode and cook for 2 minutes string so the soup thickens up.
- Add 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder and 1 tablespoon of water together in a small bowl. This should look like a paste. Pour slurry into the soup and give a couple of stirs. When the soup comes to a boil it should thicken nicely.
- Serve into soup bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.